I’m very fond of roses, may have been ever so slightly snobbish in the past regarding the desirability of old roses compared with the last 100 years worth of hybrid teas. My last garden was full of roses, too many really, perhaps I was a little greedy. Some grew beautifully, others struggled, squeezed in amongst shrubs and the ubiquitous big thuggy perennials. Then horses took over my life and the gardening time was reduced to a few minutes here and there snatching at weeds.
There always seems so much free garden space in the middle of winter when one is being tempted by rose catalogues, but it miraculously disappears when the eagerly awaited bare root roses arrive. I have tried to keep rose temptation under control and I’ve sort of partially succeeded; the ‘rampant rambler’ American Pillar was an anonymous donation and she’s getting the chop this year, I tolerate Alberic Barbier’s reach-and-claw habits because he’s so beautiful, and Bloomfield Abundance is so wonderfully rampant on her own roots, but never a smear of mildew or dot of back spot!
The reason however that roses are on my mind is the confirmation that two of my 6 recent purchases are roses by a name other than that on their labels. I cottoned on early to the imposter masquerading as the Lady of Megginch. After all the palest pink, relatively scent free shrub that burst into life in spring was clearly not the richly crimson fruity scented Megginch lady that I had ordered.
I initially suspected it could be The Generous Gardener but now I’m not sure. After waiting all summer for an identifying pale pink lusciously quartered bloom from Kathryn Morley I’m mystified by the result, the somewhat nibbled effect doesn’t help but a dark pink rose whose petals have a yellow base is clearly not the same rose that appears in the googled photos on the David Austin roses site. It’s actually a deeper pink than the photo appears and the yellow petal base cannot be seen.
The solitary quartered deep pink bloom produced by the spindly Rosa Speragina coincides sufficiently with the description and photo from the Bishops Lodge roses (aren’t they gorgeous?) and Tess of The d’Urbervilles appears to be just that, and very lovely too. Perhaps a little brighter crimson than she appears in the photo below.
Rosa moyesii “Highdownensis” is growing lustily but is failing to justify its purchase by failing to produce a single of its “striking flagon shaped hips”.
Likewise Fred Streeter, purchased the previous year for the same reason. See the following information from the The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book – “Fred Streeter Jackman, U.K., 1951. A seedling of Rosa moyesii which originated at Petworth, Sussex, and was originally distributed as R. moyesii ‘Petworth’. Considerably more bushy, with fine, dense, arching habit and fresh green leaves. The flowers are of bright cerise pink. Large flagon-shaped crimson-red heps. This is no doubt a form of R. moyesii ‘Fargesii’ and resembles ‘Sealing Wax’ and R. wintoniensis,”
Nur Mahal, confined to a pot because somehow the available garden space shrank dramatically when the 6 roses arrived, has repeatedly flowered and charmed me with both her brilliantly coloured carefree blooms and yummy scent.
There are beautiful big hips colouring up on both The Moth (old David Austin, very vigorous, evil thorns, soft pinky grey colouring) and Mrs Oakley Fisher, that delightfully elegant single madame.
The Plantsman bestowed three precious little cyclamen on me, Cyclamen confusum and two babies; Cyclamen graecum ssp candidum from the White Mountains and a few other places in central Crete and Cyclamen graecum ssp anatolicum, this particular plant is from a central carriageway in Rhodos, (the seed gathering of which is another story) although it is fairly common in Western Turkey. Now I must avoid losing them.
I briefly considered tackling the emptying and resorting of the compost heaps but decided it was too hard, especially considering my swollen knee, dodgy feet and damaged hands. However a fair bit of compost was dug out and distributed around the garden, and wodges of very old horse manure layered over the sleeping galanthus.
Hours were spent hacking and ravaging the rampant Jasminium mesyrii that was planted along the side fence by some ignorant and short sighted person previous to my ownership. This darned plant, while producing a good evergreen screen of long thin arching branches and quite attractive yellow flowers in late winter, retains an inside mess of dead sticks, thumps any other plant nearby, and breaks fences by poking its massive amounts of fresh growth between the palings. Vast amounts have been added to the already huge piles of garden waste lying in my driveway waiting to be moved by Pete the lawnmower man — roll on green waste pick-up by the City Council (tentatively broached by the council for the next financial year.) There were two pick-ups a year, now only one, as if all plants only grow once a year at the same time!
While hauling yet another endless vine of the jasmine free I realised I had exposed a strange nest cradled amongst the tangle of whippy branches It appears to be made up largely of jasmine leaves, doesn’t look like a bird’s nest at all — curious.
I’ll finish with a photo of a rose I think I’ve finally identified as “Rhapsody in Blue” . I’ve grown very fond of it, willing with its big free flowering trusses of blooms plus a lovely scent. It was purchased from the local cut flower co-operative, the “Flower Room” a few years ago bearing a label that said “Purple rose”, and it certainly is!
Spotted dog enjoyed the company of deputy supervisor Charlie for a few days, but Charlie was really more interested in barking at possums